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GUN CHECKS SET RECORD
State police see record number of gun-purchase background checks after Connecticut school shooting

 Forgings from the first cut of .44 Magnum handguns are piled in a bin at the Smith & Wesson factory.
Charles Krupa/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 12/19/2012

BY CHELYEN DAVIS

The day after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school, Virginia State Police saw their highest-ever number of gun-purchase background checks.

A Virginia gun-rights advocate says that should be no surprise, given comments from national lawmakers about increasing gun restrictions in the wake of the shootings.

According to state police records, the agency processed 4,166 background checks to purchase guns on Saturday--the highest volume of transactions in one day since the program began in 1989. It was a 42 percent increase over the number of checks on the same Saturday (Dec. 17) in 2011.

On Friday, the day of the Connecticut shootings, the state police processed 2,770 background-check transactions, a 26 percent increase over the same Friday in 2011. Background checks on Sunday were 43 percent higher than the same Sunday a year ago.

Virginia law requires anyone buying a gun from a licensed firearms dealer to undergo a criminal background check through the state police.

State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller noted that the number of background checks isn't the same thing as the number of guns purchased--the state police don't track gun purchases as systematically as they do background checks.

Background checks reflect the number of gun customers, not how many guns each individual might buy.

Nor do the background-check totals include gun purchases through private sales, as those aren't required to go through the background check.

Geller said the state police don't ask gun purchasers anything about why they're buying a gun, so there's no way to know for sure if the record-setting number of background checks is related to the Connecticut shootings and the gun-control debate it has sparked in Congress and at the state level.

But Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said the weekend's rise in background checks is absolutely related to the Connecticut shootings and the subsequent talk about increased gun restrictions.

"You ain't seen nothing yet," Van Cleave said Tuesday.


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